(1311-03-02) The Baphinol Have The Music
Summary: Jehan-Pascal of Baphinol unfolds his plans for the tax year to the Comté leadership, to mixed reviews.
RL Date: February 23rd, 2019
Related: None
jehan-pascal louna delphine 

Chateau du Pontet

Only a fifteen minute ride out east of Avignon sits a small but charming chateau on the southern bank of a meander of the Rhodane, the Pont d'Avignon rising in a lush green hill upon the other side. The property is built up onto a small plateau of its own, paved with stones that are staggered in a theatre-style stairwell down to the waterfront.

Along the northern and eastern flanks of the building dozens of double-doors open outward to allow even flow of people into and out of a large dining room with a long oaken table down the center, grand seating with velveteen cushions upon the seats and arms laid to either side and at the head of the table, behind which the great hearth rises, warming the room from the west like the setting sun. Along the southern wall of the dining hall arched openings allow access to a corridor which leads back behind the hearth and to the several rooms behind, as well as the stairwell to the two suites available above.

The decor is oak and stone and skin and antler and bronze, rustic but polished, simple but stylish, and the colors of house Baphinol fly in a banner from each of the gables.

It's a rare group met at the Chateau du Pontet, some fifteen minutes' ride outside of Avignon, proper, and just that much closer to the seats of Orange, Carpentras, Monteaux, Venasque… possibly a little further off from Caderousse and Sauveterre, but, those being the closest seats to Avignon, at any rate, they have but a little further to go. It's a charming little place, humble, as these things go, with but one large dining room, two suites above and a small collection of chambers to house those who can tend to the place. The Chateau has a rustic feel to its decor and a fine view of the Rhodane just beginning to swell and pick up speed from the earliest of spring thaws. As to those in attendance, at the invitation of Lord Jehan-Pascal de Baphinol, the heads of all the aforementioned seats of state, or else their approved proxies, as well as those each have seen fit to bring. But even as things stand there are scarce eleven souls guarded in the chateau flying the Baphinol red and gold by several ranks of liveried soldiery, and served only by a statuesque cook by the name of Madame Georgine and her assistant, Mademoiselle Chryenne, who also happens to be her daughter, and who is making sure that there is wine enough for everyone. It's good wine— but young— from the neighboring vineyard, still tangy of must, but vivacious with lively promise and zeal, and, as the day is blessed with the zephyrs which promise the heraldry of springtime, four of the double doors stand open, allowing those in attendance to mill about on the stone-paved patio and either fret or lay wagers on the business of the day.

Louna doesn't fret. Well, she does a little. A pull at the waist of her dress, to smooth out a wrinkle as she stands near a window and looks out. Gregoire traveled with but busy elsewhere. "Dreadful weather." She murmurs, now tugging on a sleeve.

Delphine rarely frets. She seems to feel quite at home at the chateau, a beaming specimen of Namarrese heritage. She wears her preferred color of bordeaux red, this time in a more contained elegance, after all it is not her intention to sparkle when the heir to Avignon apparently has called for a meeting. Upon overhearing Louna's remark, Delphine turns her gaze towards the baroness and nods in agreement. "Winters are mostly dreadful. I can't wait for spring, to be honest. And summer!"

'Spring or summer, I agree. I was caught in the snow the other day riding, dreadful. And it takes forever to get anywhere, you can't just go." Louna smiles to Delphine. "Louna. Of Monteaux." She introduces herself.

Speaking of a certain lack of sparkle, Jehan-Pascal himself comes treading down the corridor from the back, appearing in the first of the oaken archways separating the meeting room from the corridor, and making— well, not much of an appearance. Especially not to those who are used to seeing him turn out something of an ensemble when attending events in Marsilikos. He's dressed as though for the road, in a green knit-wool tunic and hide trousers, tall boots of light brown leather that actually look to have some wear to them. But his hair is freshly shorn to its even half-inch of growth, covering his head in its mild black fuzz, and his lips have been touched with a slight berry-colored stain, offering up the sweetest of smiles as he looks over those who are gathered. "Is it too cold to be out on the porch anymore? I thought the sun might grace us with attendance," he smiles. "Come on, let's all get inside and close up the doors," he suggests, rather than commands, from tone of voice, and, in demonstration, he passes by Delphine and Louna. "My Lady Aunt," he grins, "Baronesse," to Louna, whom he knows slightly less well, are administered with a tip of a bow before he goes to the first of the double doors and puts himself up on his toes, undoing the bolts keeping them open and helping them shut— on his own, just like that. "You have to get these pegs free before they will close," he explains to whichever of the gentlemen— or ladies— are following his example. "I suppose that's very nice to have in the summer when you don't want the doors to be slipping shut."

"Delphine. Of Orange.", the same counters with a smile, pleased as she is with the brevity of introductions. "Even if I must say you do look famliar. We must have come across one another now and then in the townhouse in Marsilikos, hmm? Truth be told, I spend more time there these days than in Orange. Does that make me am undutiful vicomtesse? I hope not." Her smile deepens a little. "At least I have only a few weeks left till I will become the dowager and then can watch my son dealing with all the duties. Boniface…?" Straightening, Delphine calls for her son, and in lifting her chin a little, tries to get a better view of the room. A hopeless task in the current bustle. "He must be here somewhere…", she adds then towards Louna and carries on with the conversation. "As for riding… I do adore the fresh air. It was a pleasant ride all the way from Marsilikos."

As for the chill that seems to be invading the chambers through open doors, Delphine seems not to object when her nephew arrives and suggests to have them closed. "Jehan-Pascal," she greets with a dimpling smile, and then adds, perhaps belatedly, the respectful, "My lord," afterwards, along with a curtsey.

"Probably as I have been in and out. Or dealing with my husband." That Delphine's days are numbered till the term dowager will be added to her causes Louna to settle a sorrowful look on the woman. "He turns his majority then. I am sorry. But I am sure that you have raised him well and he shall do you proud." She offers her arm to the older woman, a look to JP when he enters and tends to the doors. "Most certainly it's far too chilly to have them open and get further snow on our skirts." She doesn't move to help, letting servants assist the man.

"Heavens," Jehan-Pascal chuckles softly to his aunt as she goes all formal on him, "Just Jehan-Pascal will do plenty well for me, my dear Lady Aunt," he leans in to give her a quick peck on the cheek of dutiful nephew-esque devotion. "Ah— yes— Boniface, here— like that, thank you," Jehan-Pascal commends the young man for aiding him in coming to the rescue of the chilly Ladies in the group. There are, perhaps conspicuously, no servants here besides Chryenne and her mother, who is still in the kitchen preparing supper, and so the nobility will simply have to roll up their sleeves and manage on their own. While another Baron and his son take up the third and fourth sets of doors, Jehan-Pascal considers, tipping his hips into a stance of cogitation and tapping one finger on his baby-smooth cheek. "Shall we leave one door open for a little bit of air? We can all settle at the far end of the room by the hearth and we shall all be comfortably warm, I should think. Yes, just leave that half open, I think that'll be nice," he beams at the new situation. "Mademoiselle Chryenne is at the sideboard with the wine, fresh from the Vineyard Longchamp just down the path… did you all get a chance to look at the terraces on your way up to the Chateau? Lovely, absolutely lovely, even in this weather. At any rate, be sure to have a glass and come gather by the hearth. I'm sure you're all wondering the purpose behind our meeting here today."

"Boniface has had capable tutors," Delphine assures Louna. "And yes, I have tried to impart some of my own experience to him. He is young, energetic, and I absolutely trust him to lead Orange in a manner that would have made his father proud." Her gaze shifts immediately to her son, the almost eighteen-year-old handsome youth that readily assists with closing double doors, once Jehan-Pascal asks him so nicely for help. "Wine sounds delightful, dear nephew. And the view was absolutely marvelous. I love these terraces, they must look even more beautiful in the last months of summer, when the time of harvest approaches…" Of course, Delphine wonders about the purpose of the meeting, but she does not admit it with a single word. Electing to follow Jehan-Pascal and Louna over to the seats by the hearth, she sits down.

'The closer to the hearth the better." She looks reluctantly at the one door left open but doesn't object, watching instead young Boniface tend to assisting as they make their way. She stops for a glass of wine before seeking out a seat, smooth skirts, re-arrange silk so that she looks every part the Baroness of her lands. "I echo the Baroness Regent. I am sure that when Harvest approaches, that it is without compare."

Jehan-Pascal claps Boniface kindly at the shoulder, following along with him at the tail end of the small herd of Baphinol leadership heading for the hearth. He makes a stop at the sideboard to get a glass of the wine for him and for the young Vicomte-to-be at his side, then joins the rest in sort of milling about the august stone mantlepiece. Jehan-Pascal himself takes up a position right beside the hearth proper, and draws his shoulders back slightly, swallowing down all but a little bit of the fresh wine— just a little fortification for the task ahead. When the conversation has generally died down, "As I'm sure you're aware," he begins, "The season for the accounting and reporting of tax is almost upon us again." (Long story short: Baronies pay tax to the Vicomtes, Vicomtes to the Comte, the Comte to the Duchess.) Jehan-Pascal lifts a hand to try to soothe the murmur that no doubt rises up when the issue of the day is named. "I know," he chuckles, "It's nobody's favorite time of the year, but it must be seen to, and I think that if we all," he laces the fingers of his left hand into the fingers of his right hand, "Just work together, we can really get the most out of the experience. I have spoken to my father and he has allowed me to offer to— both Vicomtes, Orange and Carpentras— a tax break, this year, of a sum of thirty thousand ducats apiece," he starts out with this bit of good news, though his tone of voice will indicate that this money is not without strings attached.

Delphine sighs happily as she sips from her glass of wine. There is such a serene air about her, with proud glances shot Boniface's way, she may be already about to smell responsibilities fall away from her soon… But there is Jehan-Pascal, and his announcement, and so she lifts her gaze and regards the heir of the Comté quite thoughtfully. "My dear Jehan-Pascal…" She smiles and has another sip of the wine, "Is there a particular reason, why you are suggesting this… tax break to us, and not your father, the dear Comte? And what do you expect us to do with this unexpected excess of wealth…? I suppose, you won't hand it to us to go and waste it for fickle needs and vanities…?"

"It would make for a lovely new wardrobe." Louna plays off Delphine. "Some new horses, perhaps updating and repairs to some buildings, I can imagine we could easily breeze through the coin that's not needed to be sent up. Provided that break trickles down a little too." Sotto voce. She sips her wine, peering at Jehan-Pascal over the rim of her wine glass. "Are the strings lovely? Or cloying?"

Yes, the tax break is the easy part— now for the hard sell, to which Delphine so graciously provides segue. "Why, thank you for asking, my Lady Aunt," he gives a cheerful little half-bow to her, his stormy grey eyes gleaming as he reaches back to set his mostly empty glass upon the mantelpiece behind him. "The break in tax will come with three expectations. First, that you will offer ten thousand ducats' worth of tax breaks to each of your attendant Baronies. And the remaining ten thousand ducats you will match with your own funds, creating a fund of twenty thousand ducats to be held a-purpose in your seat of state. The same expectation will hold for each of our Barons and Baronesses," he looks to Louna, who was concerned about a piece of the pie. "Ten thousand in savings matched with ten thousand of your own, in a Baronial fund. These funds, in turn, will be earmarked exclusively for the public improvement of Baphinol lands. The repair of roads, or construction of new roads where there is a demand. Digging of wells or construction of ducts and founts to improve water supply in inland, rural areas. Equipment or training of more guardsmen. Subsidies to those farmers who cannot afford to allow their land to lay fallow and recover nutrient in proper season. These are, of course, only some general suggestions. You will need to decide how best the money will be spent to support your own citizens— and if you would like to meet with me, one on one, in the upcoming months, to come up with ideas, I have just completed a tour of Baphinol lands and I have some notes that may be of use to each of you. In terms of a timeline, I would like a general prospectus on your chosen spending projects along with the accounting of your tax, when it comes due, and then a full report of actual spending due on the last day of November. It should go without saying that materials and labor for these projects should be sourced at least primarily and, for preference, exclusively from Baphinol lands. I hope that you all see this as an investment in our lands and our peoples, and one that can, if well and purposefully applied, bring a great flourishment in the years to come."

Delphine blinks, but remains silent as Jehan-Pascal elaborates. "So… you are suggesting that we shall attack our own savings and spend them all on improvements on the lands? This is… an interesting suggestion. The purpose and benefit seems to be clear. But what if… there are unexpected developments those savings usually are meant to counter? What if there is a draught? What if there are sudden political tensions requiring us to raise troups? These needs would be harder to counter…", she opines softly. "Not that I know much of these things… I just… hmm… Does the Comte back your plan? And… will there be particular rewards for a barony or vicomte, if it manages a particularly effective improvement?"

"And should a barony elect to not partake in this offering? Is it an all or nothing for everyone? If one does not elect to do such, say the vicomte should choose not to, then the Barony's are bereft?" Louna also adds into the pot of questions.

Jehan-Pascal is happy to entertain questions, of course— he opens out his hand to Delphine when she essays upon one, nodding in understanding of her concern throughout. "I think that you'll find that the total which each seat need contribute to its fund is ten thousand ducats— and that, indeed, need really only be on paper, and proven spent appropriately by November. There is no reason, unless you think it will be useful to the notion of planning, to actually betake the moneys apart and keep them in a box somewhere. Consider that the ten thousand is to be spent over a period of about seven months, there is no need for it to come to such a dire strait. We may have a tight summer— but recall that the comte itself will have a tighter summer than any of you, since we are matching each of your funds— and we are not getting any break in our tax from the Duchesse. It will quite possibly need of us that we be better sparing of coin than we may otherwise be, but I have run our numbers and neither my father or I consider that any of us will see anything like unto the bottoms of our coffers," he touches on the Comte himself, without whose permission presumably his heir would not be holding this meeting. "As to rewards, I would think that the very flourishing of your individual seats in the aftermath of the improvements would be enough of a reward, both in honor AND in the increased revenue projected from said improvements. Did you have some other sort of reward in mind?" JP is not being facetious, he's just wondering if there's anything he might consider adding to sweeten the pot. Then, nodding to Louna as she speaks up as well, "It is… voluntary, of course. But I think the benefits to our populace and lands will be only the better redoubled if everyone participates. I would really encourage anyone who is considering not participating to take an evening or two and consider your motives in doing so before coming to a decision."

"This sounds… acceptable," Delphine allows. "But the voluntary aspect might require us to perhaps use additional means of persuading unwilling barons to follow this course. Perhaps…", the Regent Vicomtesse d'Orange suggests with a faint smile, "we should shift the reason as to excel and prosper in comparison to the other Eisandine Houses. Apart from love and passion, I believe there is no more effective motivation in man than competition. The standing of Baphinol in the eyes of Her Grace will grow enormously. And so will the standing grow of those that follow your call in comparison to those that elect to decline."

Louna is left quiet. Thoughtful but quiet. "This will require consultation and to give an answer now, without weighing things, well, I would be a poor Baroness if I did." A hand smooth's a skirt. "It is no small sum of coin, not in the least, to either side."

"Well, everyone is here to-day," Jehan-Pascal looks over the small assortment of vicomte/sses and baron/esses, "And while I don't see this as a… competition with the other houses, I don't doubt that we could take a leadership role in showing what our priorities as leaders and governors of men ought to be. And I think that we should be proud, as a comte, to step up together and be an exemplar of such values. I can't promise that the Duchesse will recognize our efforts in any particular way, but I think it should be enough for us to know that we are acting well, and to recognize it of ourselves, and hold pride therefrom." Gosh, your next Comte is such a poet. He looks to Louna, next. "Consider it, Baroness. And also, if you wouldn't mind staying after our meeting… There is another topic I wished to speak about with you, in private. But come, let's sit at table. I think dinner is about to be served."

<FS3> Jehan-Pascal rolls Leadership: Good Success. (1 2 1 7 7 6 7 6)

Delphine looks more than pleased, even if Louna's remark has not failed to cause a moment of hesitation in her enthusiasm. "Boniface," she calls to her son, before she adds to Jehan-Pascal, "I shall discuss this with my son, and also with our steward. But I believe, in speaking for Orange I can very much envision us to live up to these goals." And with this said, she excuses herself for a moment, to approach her son for a few words, outside of earshot of the others.

"I can remain behind yes." Louna offers, a glance to Delphine as she makes her statement. "I will of course have to speak with Gregoire and much the same, our Steward. To decide if this would be for the best for Monteaux and it's people." But there's dinner and when Deliphine rises to talk with her son, Louna's rising with that half drunk glass of wine in her hand. "Lead on, Lord Jehan-Pascal."

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